Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2015, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (2): 211-224.doi: 10.1007/s11442-015-1163-1

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Construction of an ecological resistance surface model and its application in urban expansion simulations

Yuyao YE1(), Yongxian SU1, Hong-ou ZHANG1,*(), Kai LIU2, Qitao WU1   

  1. 1. Guangzhou Institute of Geography, Guangzhou 510070, China
    2. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2014-06-09 Accepted:2014-07-02 Online:2015-02-15 Published:2015-02-15
  • Contact: Hong-ou ZHANG;
  • About author:

    Author: Ye Yuyao (1980-), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in sustainable regional development and urban planning.

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41001385;12th Five-year National Science Supported Planning Project, No.2012BAJ15B02


Urban expansion models are useful tools to understand urbanization process and have been given much attention. However, urban expansion is a complicated socio-economic phenomenon that is affected by complex and volatile factors involving in great uncertainties. Therefore, the accurate simulation of the urban expansion process remains challenging. In this paper, we make an attempt to solve such uncertainty through a reversal process and view urban expansion as a process wherein the urban landscape overcomes resistance from other landscapes. We developed an innovative approach derived from the minimum cumulative resistance (MCR) model that involved the introduction of a relative resistance factor for different source levels and the consideration of rigid constraints on urban expansion caused by ecological barriers. Using this approach, the urban expansion ecological resistance (UEER) model was created to describe ecological resistance surfaces suitable for simulating urban expansion and used to simulate urban expansion in Guangzhou. The study results demonstrate that the ecological resistance surface generated by the UEER model comprehensively reflects ecological resistance to urban expansion and indicates the spatial trends in urban expansion. The simulation results from the UEER-based model were more realistic and more accurately reflected ecological protection requirements than the conventional MCR-based model. These findings can enhance urban expansion simulation methods.

Key words: urban expansion, simulation, ecological resistance surface, model